Wednesday, December 9th Isaiah 40:6-8

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:6-8

We all know the old saying, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes.” Cute saying. But it isn’t true. There are lots of things in life that are sure and certain – we need air to breathe, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the Vikings will never win a Super Bowl. And human beings die. We live under the reality that our time will probably end long before time itself runs out.

But Isaiah tells us the “Word of our God will stand forever.”

The other day I was driving down the road listening to an interview of a playwright named Athol Fugard whose latest work was soon opening at a theater, I think, in Los Angeles. He was from South Africa so I was enjoying his accent when he surprised me by saying two things I didn’t expect to hear.

He said he was fascinated with words, with language, and with the various ways that we pronounce words and wrap their meanings up into how we say what we say, not just in speaking certain words. He said he learned that from his mother whose native language was Afrikaans. She also spoke English but with a fascinating spin on how she spoke the words as well as the words she chose to speak. I’ve never really looked at it that way before.

He also said that he had learned as a playwright that he could never really know what his plays were truly about until they became alive once handed to actors and a director. He said he had often been surprised to discover deeper meanings and subtle nuances that he never intended to emerge from his words – but once acted, his words came alive in ways he had never imagined.

Which brings me back to the writer of Isaiah and his words. His trust in the power and goodness of God runs deeper than his anxiety at the brevity of life. In telling us, encouraging us with the good news, that the Word of God would last forever he is saying far more than he realized he was saying.

In my tradition, we understand the term “Word of God” in three different ways. The written Word of God stands before us in the pages of the Bible. The incarnate Word of God walked among us in the person of Jesus. And the living Word of God still comes to us in prayer, praise, and preaching. There is far more to the “Word of God” than ink on paper.

Not only that, but there is power in the Word of God. The power to transform our lives. The power to indict us for our complicity in the brokenness of the world. The power to release us into new life through the spoken and lived reality of the forgiveness of our sins, between us and God and us and one another. The Word of God kills and makes alive. It is our compass and our hope.

Like most of you, I’ve seen the grass of human existence fading before my eyes. I’ve stood next to people as they took the last of the millions of breaths of their lives. And in those moments, I’ve seen the power of the promises of God’s Word breathe a new kind of life, even in the face of death.

The Word of God is sure and certain.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, keep us mindful of the brevity of life that we might make the most of each day that you give us. Keep us mindful as well of the eternal reach of your love and the promises you have graciously bestowed on us. Speak to us through your Word that we might speak words of encouragement and hope to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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